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Thursday, 4 January 2007

The Basics of Laptop Security

It is startling to see that a recent statistic records that one in ten laptops will be lost or stolen. These laptops often contain sensitive or very sensitive information but some have only minimal security in place.


Recent thefts of laptops include:


  • Irish Army

  • Metropolitan Police

  • Ministry of Defence (21 lost or stolen between July 2005 and July 2006)

  • Nationwide

  • Ernst & Young

The loss of the hardware is bad enough but the data that they hold could be very damaging.


The strict rules at airports last year meant that laptops could no longer be carried as hand luggage and as a direct result many hundreds of laptops were never reunited with their owners.


Rule 1: Never leave a laptop unattended in a car or in a public place.


Rule 2: Keep a minimum of data stored on the laptop.


Rule 3: If you need access to large amounts of data use VPN to access the main system.


Rule 4: Use complex passwords and log-in methods to protect data


In addition to these main rules:

  • If possible use two factor authentication, where a token, card or bio-metric is used to gain access to the laptop data.

  • If possible use encrypted data so that it is useless to a thief

  • When using a laptop in a public place avoid being overlooked.

  • The above are really simple and sensible precautions.

Some very secure organisations make use of the so called 'logic bomb', where four wrong attempts to log in to a laptop results in the entire hard disk being destroyed. Not something that should be used lightly!.. Think if the poor IT manager who will need to purchase new hardware.


Let's make 2007 a secure year for laptops

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